Like our design for Mix Design Collective last year, mindfulness in design must capture calm and stress-free ambience through a whole range of features that incorporate sight, sound, activity, and nature. The colours that we see, and subsequently the art that we display in our offices can have a significant impact on our wellbeing. According to research by the American Psychological Association, colours such as red and yellow have been shown to increase anxiety, while blues and greens have a more calming effect. Variety is important to inspire and focus the brain, but it is also key that the placing of certain colours within offices is considered carefully to avoid undue stress and distraction.
Green, particularly, is essential when we’re considering the impact of nature. According to research by Nieuwenhuis and colleagues, enriching a previously lean office with plants significantly increases workplace satisfaction, boosting productivity and creativity up to 15 percent. Engaging with nature through biophilic design, fresh air and natural light connects us back to our environment and can open our minds to our creative and inspirational faculties.
Our minds also occasionally need to switch off from technology to truly focus and reduce the problems that long periods of screen time can induce. Offices should include tech-free zones to support the balance between work and life, but employers also have a part to play in this by encouraging regular breaks, as well as offering exercise opportunities to address this.
Meditation, yoga and tai-chi are all activities that can encourage mindfulness and by designing a shared exercise space, employers will not only encourage a healthier physical and mental state, but also team communication and bonding.
But when back at work, furniture also has to be designed to support the physical shape of our bodies. Chairs and desks should all be ergonomically designed and adjustable in order to suit the range of needs of our diverse workforce, alongside the use of comfortable, tactile materials to keep them in touch with their physical surroundings.
Mindfulness in design is not about subscribing to an Instagram trend nor is it about ignoring the need for hard work. Productivity and focus are best achieved when employees are physically and mentally connected to their surroundings, through comfortable and calming workspaces. It is about creating places for people – places that they can thrive in, be inspired and enjoy attending every day of the year. And as designers, it is our role to create beautiful places that embody that work-mind balance.